This season at New York Fashion Week, each look—from runway to sidewalk to front row—was lit with the aura of change. Rather than simply reinvigorating classic ideals, the collections and accompanying above-neck looks dove headfirst into the world’s shifting notions of beauty, a welcome call for inclusivity buoyed by kaleidoscopes of color, exaggerated accessories, and an overarching air of activism—as evidenced by the real-world disrupters and less-than-conventional celebrities that flanked the models at nearly every show. From Ericka Hart, the breast cancer survivor who walked the runway at Chromat, a mesh neon slip subtly revealing her double-mastectomy scars, to 10-year-old drag kid Desmond Napoles, who stole the scene at Gypsy Sport, the week was a celebration of the current come-as-you-are revolution. And, appropriately, the onslaught of ultra-expressive makeup and hairstyles took their cue straight from the rebellion. Here, seven beauty lessons straight from city that never sleeps.
Red Lips Come in Every Variety
Fashion’s aim for inclusivity extended to the classic crimson lip. Rather than traditional swipes of rouge, the week’s most powerful pouts came painted in a barrage of variants, each exuding an individual air. The glassy blood orange lips at Chromat, for example, stood in contrast to the matte Merlot at Bottega Veneta, while Self-Portrait’s kissed-off flush of color offered an antidote to Cushnie et Ochs’s practically perfect paint job. At Brandon Maxwell, the fiery message wasn’t complete until a final touch of metallic sheen was applied to each super’s cupid’s bow. The takeaway? Wear the red lip, don’t let the red lip wear you.
With Hair Accessories, Go Big or Go Home
Forget cute and demure: The new bound-back hair accessory is subversive and slightly over-the-top. At Tom Ford, the ’80s found its stride in a parade of thick, leather headbands, each positioned over imperfect updos in a celebration of high-brow, retro glamour. The same notion was echoed by the week’s MVP, Cardi B, whose towering black head wrap combined the easy ethos of a topknot with the irreverence of an edgy new front row fixture—and, like Ford’s own bands, called for an extra coating of kohl.
Claw Clips, They’re Back
For the modern career woman, the claw clip (or jaw clip, some may even say banana clip) offers a seamless solution to would-be stuffy updos. The throwback accessory dominated the runway at Alexander Wang. Seen clenched around super-slicked twists for a polished style that hair legend Guido Palau called the “ ’80s executive,” the look was at once sculptural, effortless, and just the correct amount of kitsch to get us through the finish line.
There Are New Ways to Wear Color in Your Hair
Rather than a single shade—or even strategically placed streaks—the week’s best dye jobs edged artfully (even haphazardly) from the roots. Raf Simons’s menswear show kicked off the week with one model sporting a shag threaded with slapdash splashes of pink—the mode inspired by Berlin, he said—while the girls at Sies Marjan shook out light lengths characterized by pinks and blues that seeped, seemingly, from their center parts. Standouts included the model EZ, who traded in her bleach blonde to lead the flame-color hair brigade, and the trans activist Munroe Bergdorf who closed Gypsy Sport in an ombré pink wig. Of course, who could forget the lucky nine ladies at Marc Jacobs; plucked to peacock shocking stripes of neon in their freshly chopped bowl cuts, the pops of color acting as the perfect close to a whirlwind of a week.
Wet-Look Hair Is Here to Stay
The Row rounded out the week with a reinvigorated take on drenched lengths, with hairstylist Eugene Souleiman augmenting each model’s natural hair texture with a shower-fresh finish, piece-y strands clinging to foreheads and temples in sculptural fashion. The beauty inspiration for the uniformed, “day clothes” collection? No doubt the designers themselves.
The New Statement Eye Is Anything but Black
At eye level, the time has officially come to give up the onyx. This season’s eye makeup veered dauntlessly into a prismatic, rainbowlike arena, with graphic lids edged in shimmering lavender (Oscar de la Renta), vibrant multi-tonal arches (Jason Wu), and splashes of pinks and purples (Anna Sui, the look winningly worn postshow by Gigi Hadid). The psychedelic trend extended to the front row, too: Simi and Haze Khadra drew all eyes to their own with graphic wings of turquoise at Alexander Wang, while at Coach, Sasha Lane pressed lids in a light-catching coat of fuchsia.
Gender Fluidity Reigns Supreme on the Runway
Activism in fashion has never felt stronger, with designers throwing details like age, size, and gender to the waist-side. It’s the latter category that got their parade this season, showing signs of inclusivity in everything from close-cropped coifs to buzz cuts to, most effectively, the casting, which made runway stars out of personalities such as the kinderdrag kid Desmond Is Amazing at Gypsy Sport and the trans model Viktoria Modesta, who wore a transparent prosthesis on Chromat’s catwalk. These muses may seem fluent in the not-so-simple art of being themselves, but it’s their brave, head-high presentations that will pave the way for others to do the same.